Understanding your Carpet
Before diving into any specific solutions, I want to stress how important it is to understand what kind of carpet you have — what it’s made of — prior to using any DIY solutions. There are a few common types of carpet, and a few ways to identify what kind of carpet it is. If the wrong types of treatment are used based on your carpet material, permanent damage could occur, so it’s important to know.
Types of Carpet
Synthetic: Synthetic carpets are predominantly made of nylon, rayon, polyester, Olefin, and polypropylene. Most homes use synthetic materials for their carpeting.
Natural Material: While there are a few types of natural materials that can be used for carpeting, wool is the predominant type of natural material used to make carpets.
Less Common Materials: There are materials that are far less common than the other listed above. These include jute, sisal, hemp and seagrass.
If you don’t know, ask me!
In situations where you are unsure of what type of carpet you have, I’d be happy to help! Believe it or not, I’ve been working with carpets for over 15 years, and I can confidently identify the type of carpet and other flooring in your home simply by looking at it. In the rare situations where looking at the carpet and feeling its texture is not sufficient, I have a tool-belt of tricks to help determine the type of carpet you have.
An important point to keep in mind:
No matter what solution you use to handle spills on your carpet, it’s always a good idea to spot test a solution on a small, hidden, inconspicuous area of your carpet to make sure that it doesn’t affect the color.
Household Items that Tackle Spills on Carpet
For specific spills and what to do about them, you can check out our [Carpet Spot and Spill Guide] where we go over about 45 different stains. We break them down by type, and go over some practical solutions for each stain.
We also have a Carpet Spill First Aid Kit on that page if you want to go shopping and be prepared for almost any spill you can image.
But this is an informative list of common household solutions that are useful to clean up messes on your carpet.
A Mild Dishwashing Detergent
We recommend having a clear, non-bleach liquid dishwashing detergent on hand — like Dawn, Joy, or Clear Ivory.
Do not use a dishwashing soap that is colored, cloudy, or creamy. There is a good chance they will leave behind a residue or leave a slight discoloration. Go clear!
You will make a diluted solution with dish soap to tackle water based spills, like coffee, soda, and other beverages. See our Spot and Spill Guide for details.
A diluted white vinegar solution creates a gentle cleaner for certain types of spills on your carpet such as coffee and vomit. See our spot and spill guide for how to use it, but vinegar will help dislodge the stain from your carpet fibers.
If you feel as though a smell has been left behind, simply use a damp, white cloth to blot up any residual cleaning solution.
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that has been used for decades.
It has a high oxidizing property which allows it to be a good cleaning agent. It also acts as a disinfectant and kills germs.
The most common strength found in stores is 3%. This is the recommended percentage of peroxide for household purposes.
Hydrogen peroxide can be a good solution to clean up carpet messes. Peroxide has various properties, which makes it an excellent cleaning agent.
It has oxidizing properties. This means it attacks those nasty old stains and gets them out of your carpet within minutes. It also has bleaching properties.
This means that it removes the residual colors from the stains. Its antimicrobial properties allow it to kill all the microbes in your carpet and make it look fresh.
Be sure to spot-test Hydrogen Peroxide on your carpet before using it on a larger stained area.
While this can lift some stubborn stains, we recommend using this option as your last resort.
A diluted ammonia solution may help lift stains from red wine, blood, and chocolate.
However, you should not use ammonia on Wool Carpets! You will likely ruin the wool. Ammonia is high in alkaline and that will likely lead to irreversible damage to the wool carpet or rug fibers.
If you use ammonia for cleaning stains on synthetic carpet there is a chance the alkaline will degrade the carpet fibers, so we do recommend using it as a last resort. And as always, spot test the solution on a small hidden area of your carpet.
See our spot and spill guide for how to use it, and how to create an effective solution.
A non-oily nail polish remover
For oily and oil-based spills on your carpet, such as crayons, butter, and greasy foods like pizza, it’s a good idea to have a special oil and grease spot remover.
But a non-oily nail polish remover may do the trick.
Do not pour or spray this solvent directly on the carpet, or you could damage the backing or adhesive underneath.
(We do recommend wearing protective gloves, as the solvent could irritate your skin.)
To be clear, use the towels to transport the solvent to the carpet. See our spot and spill guide for specifics.
For solid stains like gum and chocolate, something as simple as ice can really save the day. Honestly, as long as the object you’re using is frozen, it can be used to help lift whatever is stuck within your carpet fibers. Simply place the ice or frozen object directly on top of the spill with a thin barrier such as a paper towel or cloth separating them. Wait till the gum or chocolate is frozen and then use a putty knife or similar dull object to gently separate your carpet fibers from the foreign object. Vacuum up any small, remaining debris. (Link to Gum Article)
Household Items to Avoid
Bleach: While bleach is a powerful cleaning agent, it can strip your carpet of its beautiful, original color. This can ruin the overall appearance of your carpet and leave it looking patchy.
Laundry Detergent: Although effective on clothes submerged in water, laundry detergent will simply leave you tackling a sudsy mess that risks transferring the stain to other parts of your carpet. Avoid it when possible.
Additionally, there are articles in which rubbing alcohol, salt, beer, or even white wine have been suggested as maintenance for your tough stains. While these household items may help in certain scenarios, they may not provide results that consider the integrity of your carpet. I recommend avoiding these solutions when possible.
For All of Your Tough Stains, Call My Pro Cleaner
As your dedicated partner in carpet care and maintenance, I am here to help you get the most out of your carpets by investing in customized care for your and your home, and by empowering my clients to handle certain cleaning scenarios. If you have any questions about this article, or need assistance with tile, grout, carpet or upholstery cleaning- please do not hesitate to reach out. Together we can help you achieve a happy, healthy home.
My Pro Cleaner Carpet Cleaning
My Pro Cleaner is a top-rated locally-owned-and-operated carpet cleaning company in Spring TX and northern Houston communities.. We believe in providing a top-quality and complete cleaning service. We have a proven track record, always provide friendly customer service, and we are proud to support our local Texas economy here in Spring, Houston, The Woodlands, and surrounding Texas cities and communities.